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Disney’s Live-Action Remakes Ranked: Where Does The Little Mermaid Land?


Disney’s live-action remakes have come to be an expected part of the studio’s film lineup, both theatrically and on their streaming service. While most of the adaptations are met with a significant amount of cynicism — especially from a small, but vocal toxic online presence — these movies usually bode well at the box office. Admittedly, many of Disney’s live-action remakes have paled in comparison to their animated counter-parts; but, they aren’t all bad. In fact, some of them are very good.

For this ranking, I’ll be looking at the adaptations from 2010 and later. There were live-action remakes prior to this (101 Dalmatians), however 2010 and onward is when the trend truly picked up steam and became its own unstoppable force. I’ll also be excluding films like Cruella and Maleficent since these films work more as a spin-off than a direct adaptation.

With that said, let’s dive into the magical world of Disney and rank those Disney live-action remakes.

#12 – Pinocchio (2022)

Tom Hanks looks amazing as Geppetto in Pinocchio
Pinocchio: Disney’s Live-Action Remakes Ranked

Pinocchio is truly the worst-of-the-worst. It’s odd because the film is directed by Robert Zemeckis and stars Tom Hanks. This is a proven duo who have worked together on fan-favorite classics like Forrest Gump and Cast Away. However, Pinocchio contains none of the magic we’d expect, and a truly terrible performance from Hanks. What makes it worse, is that Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, released the same year, went on to win big at the Academy Awards.

Also Read: Pinocchio Review – The Worst Adaptation Yet

#11 – Lady and the Tramp (2019)

Lady and the Tramp
Lady and the Tramp: Disney’s Live-Action Remakes Ranked

Releasing on Disney+ the same day the streaming service launched, Lady and the Tramp adapts one of Disney’s oldest animated movies. The fact that it was going straight to streaming could have been seen as a sign of its questionable quality, or as an attempt to generate subscribers to a new streaming service. It’s not as bad as Pinocchio, but this was far from a slam-dunk start for Disney’s new streamer.

#10 – Alice In Wonderland (2010) / Alice Through The Looking Glass (2016)

Johnny Depp as Hatter in Alice in Wonderland (2010).
Alice in Wonderland: Disney’s Live-Action Remakes Ranked

Tim Burton and Alice in Wonderland should fit together like a hand and glove. And maybe they do, but that doesn’t make the final outcome good. Unfortunately, the 2010 adaptation and its 2016 sequel fell flat, creating a world that audiences didn’t want to return to for a third time. Still, it’s the only one of the Disney live-action remakes to receive a sequel thus far. That has to account for something, right?

#9 – Dumbo (2019)

Dumbo: Disney’s Live-Action Remakes Ranked

Tim Burton took another swing at the world of Disney live-action adaptations with Dumbo. The film holds plenty of the trademark elements of a Burton film. Despite a strong start, the film fails to fully take flight and can’t quite seem to find its wings by the half-way point.

#8 – The Lion King (2019)

The Lion King

This one may be a bit controversial depending on who you ask. It’s not truly a live-action remake, as nearly all of the film is computer generated. So, it’s really more of a realistic-animation, than a live-action. Either way, the film suffers from its realism which strips the animal characters of all the personality and emotion we witnessed in the original. This, above all others, truly suffered from the losing the animation style. On the plus side, the film looks amazing and the songs are just as good as you remember.

#7 – Mulan (2020)

Mulan live-action movies
Mulan: Disney’s Live-Action Remakes Ranked

Mulan is perhaps the film that changed most drastically from the original to the remake. It ditched the musical elements of the animated classic and chose not to include the iconic dragon side-kick Mushu, originally voiced by Eddie Murphey.

#6 – The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid: Disney’s Live-Action Remakes Ranked

Halle Bailey is fantastic as Ariel, bringing an innocence and charm to the character that is needed. But the film’s wonky use of CGI, watered down delivery make this one of Disney’s most mediocre attempts at a live-action remake. Part of Your World is performed beautifully, but many of the other songs fall flat.

#5 – Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Belle Beauty and the Beast live-action remakes
Beauty and the Beast: Disney’s Live-Action Remakes Ranked

Back in 1991 Beauty and the Beast acheived the honor of being the first animated film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. That’s an impressive feat, which meant that the 2017 remake had a lot to live up to. It mostly succeeds by relies too heavily on auto-tuned musical performances and many of the CGI characters just didn’t translate.

#4 – Peter Pan & Wendy (2023)

PPW FP 0074
Peter Pan and Wendy: Disney’s Live-Action Remakes Ranked

The story of Peter Pan has been adapted so many times that it has essentially worn out its welcome with most viewers. So, when it was announced that there was yet another adaptation on the way, fans were skeptical. However, auteur David Lowery should not be underestimated. Best known for his A24 fantasy collaborations like The Green Knight, Lowery brought a beauty and a charm to the story that was fitting. And despite being relegated straight to streaming on Disney+, this was actually one of the best Disney remakes we’ve seen.

Also Read: Peter Pan & Wendy Review – Magical Reimagining of a Classic

#3 – Cinderella (2015)

Cinderella live-action remakes
Cinderella: Disney’s Live-Action Remakes Ranked

Cinderella is perhaps the movie that truly launched the trend of the Disney’s live-action remakes. Following this one in 2015, we received slew of adaptations ranging in quality. However, this one remains one of the strongest attempts from Disney to reimagine their animated films in live-action.

#2 – Aladdin (2019)

Will Smith and Mena Massoud in Aladdin
Aladdin: Disney’s Live-Action Remakes Ranked

Guy Ritchie is best known for his British crime movies like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. So, he seemed like an odd choice to bring the story of Aladdin to the big-screen. However, he was clearly the right man for the job as the film went on to earn over one-billion dollars at the global box office and received nearly unanimous praise from audiences. Aladdin finds the balance of maintaining the core of the original film, changing enough to stand out as its own film.

#1 – The Jungle Book (2016)

The Jungle Book
The Jungle Book: Disney’s Live-Action Remakes Ranked

2016’s The Jungle Book wasn’t the first live-action attempt at the ’67 animated film. 90’s kids grew up with The Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Story. But it took Jon Favreau’s distinct vision to truly bring this classic to life. With a voice cast as fantastic as Bill Murray, Christopher Walken and Idris Elba, it’s no wonder this is the best of the bunch.

So, that’s it. Our ranking of the Disney live-action remakes ranked. What do you think? Do you agree with our list? Are you excited for The Little Mermaid?

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Written by Joshua Ryan

Joshua Ryan is the Creative Coordinator and Head Film Critic for FandomWire. He's a member of the Critics Choice Association and spokesperson for the Critics Association of Central Florida. Joshua is also one of the hosts of the FandomWire review based Podcast, Cinema Stubs.

Twitter: @MrMovieGuy86 Instagram: @MrMovieGuy86